Valley Parents: Welcome to the Summer Vacation Edition

Valley Parents Editor
Friday, August 03, 2018

My childhood summer breaks will always be remembered for the trees I climbed, the bike rides I went on, the dives off I made off the dock, the games of hide-and-seek I played, the jobs I worked and the dozens of books I read (often in the trees I climbed).

There was very little structure to my summer days beyond daily trips to a local lake and an annual family vacation. I remember going to Girl Scout camp for a week for a couple summers, but the most memorable experience from that was learning how to make friendship bracelets and lanyards.

What was memorable was the immense feeling of freedom, restricted only by the darkening sky and the rules my parents loosely enforced: Don’t bike too far from home, obey the lifeguards at the lake, don’t climb higher than the house in your tree.

(Mind you, these were the days when cellphone use was in its infancy, and if I had had the nerve to try to spend most of the day in front of the TV or computer, I would have been prohibited from doing so by my parents.)

Once I started driving, and by extension working, other rules were put into place. But even those new limits never took away that “it’s a beautiful summer day and anything could happen” feeling. How I wish for that as an adult now! 

In this edition of Valley Parents, we posed the old question, “What did you do on your summer vacation?” 

Correspondent Eleanor Kohlsaat found that for children in many Upper Valley towns, a trip to the local library to participate in summer programs is an important part of what they do during the summer months. In addition to keeping kids’ minds engaged through reading, programs provide enjoyable and stimulating activities.

 “My experience is that, during the school year, children read what they are required to read and have very little time to read for fun,” Nadine Hodgdon, director of the Hartford Library, told Kohlsaat. “During the summer they have more free time to explore books and subjects that interest them.”

Columnist Mark Lilienthal reflected on what he used to do during the summer vacations of his youth and how that compared with the activities of his children.

“For me, when I think about specific instances from my summers, all that gauzy, utopian scenery disappears in a flash, replaced by the individual, snapshot-in-time memories that are indelibly seared into my memory,” he wrote. “They are a mix of fond and embarrassing, funny and scary at the same time.”

Woodsville High grad Lily Kinder spent part of her summer practicing her rowing, in preparation for competing as a freshman for Bates College in Maine. 

Patrick O’Grady interviewed Josh Levasseur, a 20-year-old who is working two part-time jobs to help pay for his college education.

And correspondent Kelly Burch contributed an essay about how the birth of her second child changed the trajectory of her family’s summer for the better.

Finally, we conclude with our kids calendar to help you plan for how best to take advantage of what remains of your summer vacation.

As for me, I’m looking forward to a few days off to spend time with friends and unplanned weekend days. Maybe I’ll even find a good tree to climb.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.